Resources on Social Media

Since we have been using social media, we’ve come across a number of resources which may be informative if you are thinking of taking this step.  These are not exhaustive and by listing them we  are not suggesting these are definitive guides.  Obviously we can take no responsibility for the content of external sites.

If you are tweeting as a health professional, you should know and adhere to your professional body’s ethical guidelines and policies, some of which include reference to use of social media.

Understanding Social Media in Mental Health

Social Media in Mental Health Practice: A practical guide for health and social care practitioners working in mental health services is a publication written by Victoria Betton and Victoria Tomlinson, and published in 2013 by Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.  This provides lots of information on the basics of social media and its application in mental health services.  Chapter 5 provides some useful tips on on getting started in social media. (Update July 2017: the link for this publication seems to be down so the download won’t work currently.  We will update as soon as we find another route to the document.)

More on Getting Started

Twitterversity is a free resource for health professionals starting out on Twitter, offered by those at WeCommunities

A brief video orientation to social media for health professionals is offered by The Edge with Anne Cooper (@AnnieCoops) , nurse, patient and active social media user. See the video here or direct on Youtube here.

Top Tips for Twitter Newbies are offered by mental health blogger, writer and Maudsely Debate panelist @Sectioned_  (more information in her  ‘About Me’ details .)

Just what is the point of health professionals in social media? #wtg16 includes the transcript of an earlier talk by @Markoneinfour on social media and public professionals #expo14NHS  Mark is a director of Social Spider CIC and a vocal advocate on use of social media as a tool for people-led innovation in mental health.  Read more about him here.

Anne Marie Cunningham, a GP and Primary Care Clinical Director, provides a comprehensive and helpful overview of the value of social media for health professionals in “Collaborating and Connecting Online” in this video from Stanford University’s Med X in 2014.

Helen Crimlisk, Sheffield-based Community Psychiatrist reflects on her first year on Twitter in this article in the Royal College Of Psychiatry’s iMIND newsletter.

Professional Guidance on Use of Social Media

Health & Care Professions Council:

The HCPC recently updated its guidance in relation to social media for regulated professions and is in the process of issuing further guidance on this.  It recognises that social networking sites are increasingly “a part of many registrants’…everyday life” and that they generally do not have concerns about their use except where registrants do not act within HCPC standards.  The key standards relate to the need for you as a registrant to:-

  • act in the best interests of service users
  • respect the confidentiality of service users
  • keep high standards of personal conduct; and
  • to behave with honesty and integrrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession

The HCPC held a public consultation on social media use by members in 2016 and published the summary document about results of this in March 2017, which you can read here.  The updated guidance is due to be published in September 2017.

Specific Professions:

A number of individual professional bodies have published guidelines for their members which are informative.


British Psychological Society 2012  Ethics Committee Supplementary Guidance on the Use of Social Media

Medical Doctors:

Royal College of General Practitioners 2013 Social Media Highway Code

General Medical Council 2013 Doctors’ Use of Social Media

The British Medical Association have updated their guidance in 2017 and this is collated on a webpage here.  2017 guidance documents include Social media – practical guidance and best practice and Social media, ethics and professionalism guidance.


British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy 2015 Good Practice in Action 040: Frequently Asked Questions: Social Media (audio and video) and the counselling professions prepared by Dr Nicola Davies


We understand that the UKCP is in the process of drafting guidance for its members.

Social Workers:

British Association of Social Workers 2012 BASW Social Media Policy

Occupational Therapists:

The College of Occupational Therapists publishes two documents on social media use available to members only – click here for the relevant page on their website.


Nursing & Midwifery Council 2015 Guidance on Using Social Media Responsibly

Other relevant articles

Gillett 2014 Social Psychiatry and Social Media: Natural Friends? Royal College of Psychiatrists Editorial Spring eNewsletter

Aaron Balick, a London-based integrative psychotherapist,  published an informative article in 2017 on the topic of developing a digital policy as a psychotherapist.  This was written for a private practitioner audience but highlights many issues relevant to NHS staff also – click here to view.  He refers to his own digital policy which can be seen at this link.

Dr Keely Kolmes, a US based psychotherapist, has written extensively on dilemmas and guidelines in relation to social media.  You can access a collection of these at Articles for Clinicians Using Social Media

Cooper A & Inglehearn A (2015) Perspectives: Managing professional boundaries and staying safe in digital spaces  Journal of Nursing in Research 20(7) 625 – 633.  This is an informative article written by a general nurse and a mental health nurse who are leaders in use of social media for health professionals.

If problems arise

If you are subject to any sort of online abuse on Twitter, check out advice, supports and guidance offered on pages here or via @safety as a first step.

Help us build this page

If you are aware of updates to the resources listed here, or you’ve come across resources that have helped you make use of social media, and think would be useful additions to this page, please do let us know.